The Premier League consists of 20 teams who each play 38 matches. It’s a relatively simple concept when spelled out like that but many don’t give the guidelines a second thought. The concept of playing every team in the league twice (home and away) is quite literally a foreign concept to those outside of England. Whereas the season is set up in this way to ensure maximum fairness, not all schedules are created equal. Chelsea found this out the hard way when the fixture list was released a few months ago.
The Blues have already taken on two big six clubs within their first four games and the next two contests are against ones from the group, as well. Thomas Tuchel’s team has had to keep its foot on the gas throughout the early stages of the season, but they’ve done well thus far. Chelsea is level on points with the league leader, Manchester United, after tallying three wins and a draw to kick off the 2021/22 campaign. The Blues have been touted as early title favorites alongside the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and the aforementioned Red Devils. The back half of September will go a long way in proving whether or not they deserve their place at the big kid’s table.
Chelsea’s domestic legitimacy will be tested throughout the next few weeks.
Chelsea has already squared off against a number of formidable squads this season. The campaign kicked off with a squabble with Spanish side Villarreal in the Super Cup. The scrappy squad put together by Tuchel was able to come away with silverware, not before a nervy 120 minutes and penalty shootout though. The Blues dispatched of both Crystal Palace and Arsenal early on before travelling to Anfield. The trip to Liverpool was the first true test of strength and it was ruined by Anthony Taylor. Reece James’ first half red card and the hosts’ subsequent penalty meant Chelsea was at a disadvantage. Nevertheless, it escaped the sacred ground with one point.
The 3-0 win over Aston Villa and 1-0 victory against Zenit most recently may also make one wonder why the Blues are being questioned. They simply haven’t won convincingly on the big stage just yet. Chelsea—namely Romelu Lukaku—has done enough to come away from games with positive results; ones important to the title race even. The Blues need to convincingly defeat the biggest clubs they face sooner or later. Luckily those big fish are on the menu this month.
Next up is a trip to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which has boasted some of the most ruckus English crowds this season. The 62,000+ person venue has given Spurs a true advantage when playing at home. Nuno Espirito Santo has injected life into a previously deceased side and Harry Kane’s return is a promising sign. Tottenham is seen as an outsider as it relates to a top four spot, but wins over Manchester City and Chelsea would have Spurs supporters believing otherwise. This is perhaps the most important meeting of the two since the Battle of the Bridge was played five seasons ago. A win in this London derby will have the winner feeling on top of the world.
Sandwiched in between the crucial fixtures is an opportunity to rotate in the Carabao Cup against Aston Villa. Dean Smith’s side gave the Blues a fit for one half just last week, so it’ll be intriguing to see how Tuchel’s largely changed side copes with the pressure. Regardless, this result won’t impact the league expectations.
Three days later, SW6 will welcome Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in a rematch of the 2021 Champions League final. Chelsea is currently on a three-match winning streak against the Citizens. A fourth consecutive win would surely cement the Blues as the biggest threat to City’s throne as Guardiola would seemingly have no answer for Tuchel’s tactics. These were two of Europe’s best sides last season and it’s looking like that’ll be the case this year, as well. If Chelsea is able to keep up with the high flying Citizens then it’ll have legitimized the claims it should be a title favorite.
After taking on Tottenham and Manchester City within a week of one another, the Blues will then fly to Turin to face Juventus. The Old Lady seems a shell of its former self, but Massimiliano Allegri’s side seemingly flipped a switch when it came time to compete in Europe. Realistically, Juve is the only team capable of challenging Chelsea for first place in Group H. The result at the Allianz Stadium hardly matters in the sense of a domestic title challenge. However, if the Blues are able to turn the page and go into October still unbeaten in these massive matches, it’ll be a gigantic confidence booster for the reigning Champions of Europe.
How do you think the Blues fare to end September? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!
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